Gary Neville: UCL Exit Against Bayern Will Give Liverpool EPL Title-Race Edge

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22:  Gary Neville ahead of the Premier League match between West Ham United and Fulham FC at London Stadium on February 22, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville thinks Liverpool's Premier League title chances would be enhanced if they were to go out of the UEFA Champions League against Bayern Munich. 

The Reds were knocked off the top of the table over the weekend, as they were only able to draw the Merseyside derby with Everton 0-0 on Sunday. Manchester City, who beat Bournemouth 1-0 on Saturday, are now a point clear of Jurgen Klopp's side.

Speaking about Liverpool's prospects of winning the Premier League, Neville said on his Sky Sports podcast that elimination in the Champions League last-16 may prove to be a blessing for the Reds:

"I'm going to say it: go out against Bayern Munich. That sounds like madness.

"Of course, you'd never play to lose a game, but it will be in Liverpool's favour if they have a clean run as they can get everyone fresh. City have got a couple of FA Cup games, where Liverpool could go five or six points in front. That's tough to pull back in the closing weeks.

"This title race is still 50-50."

The stalemate was Liverpool's second successive 0-0 draw away from home in the top flight. It's been a while since the side struggled for goals on the road:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Liverpool have now failed to score in consecutive Premier League away games for the first time since December 2015. Stuttering on the road. 🚧 https://t.co/Gnw3bCMDV7

Liverpool made it to the final of the Champions League last season, where they were eventually beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid. They also have a good chance of making it to the quarter-finals of this edition, as they drew 0-0 with the German champions in the first leg of the tie at Anfield.

The second leg at the Allianz Arena will be played on Wednesday, March 13. The match will be book-ended by Premier League clashes against Burnley and Fulham.

While Liverpool are still in a brilliant position to challenge for the title, the manner in which the team's attack has been stifled in recent weeks represents a worry. 

Melissa Reddy of Joe.co.uk commented on the team's lack of composure in the Merseyside derby draw:

Melissa Reddy @MelissaReddy_

Untidy, panicked game that suited #EFC just fine and quite staggering #LFC didn't impose themselves to greater effect to mould it on their terms. Decision-making was so, so poor from Jürgen Klopp's side, which made them the biggest deterrent to their own attacks. Not brave enough

Given the Premier League trophy is Liverpool's primary goal, it's perhaps little surprise the team appear edgy going into some big games. City, who are the defending champions, look a little more relaxed by contrast.

After all, they already have the Carabao Cup in the bag this season and are in a brilliant position to challenge for more honours. Although the pursuit of four trophies this term will take an inevitable physical toll on the team, manager Pep Guardiola has a squad deep enough to deal with the demands.

Liverpool arguably don't have the resources to mount an effective challenge on both fronts during the run-in. However, for a club that have such a rich history in Europe, they will surely be doing all they can to go a step further than last season.